Design and Technology at the Skylark Federation
Following the updated Ofsted inspection framework (Ofsted, May 2019), schools were instructed to place Curriculum ‘Intent, Implementation and Impact’ at the heart of their curriculum design (within the new, reformed ‘Quality of Education’ measure).
At the Skylark Federation, we have constructed ‘a curriculum that is ambitious and designed to give all learners...the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life [while ensuring] teaching is designed to help learners to remember in the long term the content they have been taught and to integrate new knowledge into larger concepts’ (Ofsted, May 2019, pg. 9 and 10).
To achieve this, we have modelled our curriculum on Jonathan Lear’s Discover, Explore and Create curriculum model, which sees all learners at the Skylark Federation critically analysing in History, Geography, DT and the Arts across the academic year. These Discover (History), Explore (Geography) and Create (the Arts) projects form the backbone of our projects across the year, and all subjects – including English – are informed by these projects.
Our ‘Intent’ – in designing our bespoke, South Downs curriculum – is for Design and Technology (and all other subjects) to be relevant and have a strong local resonance with pupils. In doing so, our intention is that all learners reach their full potential through a Design and Technology curriculum that is tangible and real for pupils of the South Downs. That is not to say our curriculum is narrow-sighted: we use children’s local understanding to project their minds across the globe. We are an outward-looking Federation of village schools.
Every term, all pupils – irrespective of their year group – study our whole-school Discover, Explore and Create projects. This approach provides a whole-school ‘buzz’ and connectedness to our projects.
In the Spring Terms 3 and 4 our focus is the explore part of our curriculum. This is an opportunity for a focus on Design and Technology.
Developing, Planning and Communicating Ideas
Design skills range from children’s first ideas developed from first hand experience of the world in Reception to designing to specification, communicating specific aspects of design and choosing materials, tools and techniques in year 6.
Working with Tools, Equipment, Materials and Components to Create Products
Throughout their time at Plumpton children use learn to use a variety of tools, techniques and materials to bring their designs to life. This includes working with wood, fabric, wool for weaving and knitting and food items. This work includes consideration of risk and hygine to ensure children can achieve independence safely.
Evaluating Processes and Products
A core part of the design and creation process is evaluation. At Plumpton children are given opportunities and language to evaluate processes and products by looking at the effectiveness of the model, checking back against the design criteria, testing the product and suggesting ways it could be improved.
Following our ‘Explore’ curriculum focus pupils across the school analysed product, purpose and materials. Our recent data harvest in Spring 2021 showed that in years 1, 3 and 6 100% pupils were able to achieve this aim. In all years more than 77% pupils achieved this aim.
Pupils progress in curriculum skills through widening their analysis to: how well products are made and finished in year 4, how well the product meets the needs of the consumer in year 5 and in year 6 pupils analyse a wide range of products.
Pupil quotes show how this broad and creative curriculum has engaged them:
Pupil in Reception following a forest school fence building activity:
‘I love hammering and making stuff, this is my best day ever!’
Pupil in year 6:
‘I really like making 3D structures, I can make my own decisions. I like working outside and making things every day!’
(Ofsted, May 2019) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/801429/Education_inspection_framework.pd
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